Tuesday, May 22, 2012

ABC Post - Letter S for "Stories"

So many STORIES stimulate speculation over the course of a week, that the letter "S" for this week's ABC Wednesday post seems to be an easy one.  I guess the only slippery slope to watch out for will be the seduction of  wanting to show way too many.  Perhaps, you could select just one of the seven here to savour, if you are feeling stressed for free space in your life.  Here they are:

1.  Roundhouse Turntable Plaza: Who sanctioned the structure?
For well over a year, I have watched the space by The Roundhouse Community Centre.  A day or two after the project was finally completed, I was excited to take a picture of the structure.  Note: Wikipedia definition of a Roundhouse: "roundhouse is a building used by railroads for servicing locomotives. Roundhouses are large, circular or semicircular structures that were traditionally located surrounding or adjacent to turntables. The defining feature of the traditional roundhouse was the turntable, which facilitates access when the building is used for repair facilities or for storage of steam locomotives."
Here is a quote from Nick Milkovich Architects, the company who conceived of the plan.
The Roundhouse is one of the most successful community centres in Vancouver. There is a historic turntable in the plaza which is associated with this centre that has become a very underused space in the city. The mandate of this project is to protect, promote and enhance the existing character and heritage values of the turntable by introducing new, more contemporary but historically compatible elements to animate the plaza and create a stronger sense of place.
I secretly wondered whether the design fit in with the surrounding scenery, but wanted to be positive, and thought maybe the view from the rooftop of my building would give me another perspective.
This past Sunday, amid steady rainfall, the plaza was officially opened.  Surely, some people must have questioned that the musicians did not stay very dry, nor were they protected from the wind.  Not to mention the audience.  Bill and I sat on the red seats, and although one lady kindly gave us paper towels to dry off the rain that had collected there, we were still too saturated to stay long.
The musicians braved the cold and wet and I admired their self-discipline as well as the trombonists' slide technique.
Everyone sat up straight, just as I used to stress when I was teaching band in a school program.  Nevertheless, I was curious about the cost of that structure that didn't seem to satisfy even the most basic needs of public performers, and about the person(s) who sanctioned the overall design.  All of the newspaper reports about the grand opening were positive, but surely, something was amiss in this story! 

2. A musician's schooling and subsequent future
Segueing from the thought of school music programs, I wondered about the story of the young man shown below.  He was practicing the bagpipes last evening in David Lam Park. He told me he is from The Yukon and never had to worry about finding a place to practice.  Here, in Vancouver, he was concerned about disturbing people, and in fact, told me that a ban on playing bagpipes in public had only recently been lifted.  He was so polite and very accommodating and I thought his skills were impressive.  He took time to show me one of the reeds that does not go in his mouth, but is fitted inside the instrument.  He also showed me the notation that he reads from.  All fascinating!  
Two young children were listening to the young man, and they asked to hear more and more songs.  He was ever patient with them, answering their questions and trying his best to give them a satisfying performance.
When the children's parents called them away, they picked a few flowers and placed them on the instrument case.  The young man was not collecting payment of any kind, but he smiled and told the children he would keep those flowers forever.  I wondered if he had kindled a new interest in bagpipes and asked him how his own interest developed.  It seemed that it happened mostly by chance.  Bagpipes were needed for Remembrance Day and he turned out to be the right one for the job.  His interest had continued after moving to Vancouver, and his only concern was to find a place to practice.  This story was unfinished for me.  As a band teacher, I always felt a great responsibility to help students find the instrument that best suited them.  I was always aware that a good choice could help to encourage a lifelong love of music and the wrong choice could have the opposite affect. Last evening, I went on my way with the sound of bagpipes in my ears and with a feeling of respect and admiration for this kind and committed musician.  I hope to see him again, so that his story can be continued.

3. Canada Goose siblings
And moving on from my thoughts of childhood development, I come to some Canada Goose families.  A few days ago, I came across two adult geese and the largest gaggle of goslings I have ever seen.  It was difficult to get an accurate count, but I think there were at least 23 offspring!  Surely, there had to be a story.  Perhaps, some were fostered or adopted?
The next day, I came across parent geese near the Cambie Bridge.  They were carefully over-seeing the safety of a lone gosling that was without even one sibling.  I suspected this was not a very happy story, but a story there definitely was, if only I could have spoken with the geese.
 A day or two later, we spotted this more standard-sized family in Stanley Park.  Still, I had questions. 
Why did some stand up and search out food aggressively, while..
others lay down and seemed satisfied to gather any bits of food items that were within reach.  As simple, I suppose, as the differences of personality and energy level in every family member, but again, I would have loved to have been a bit more savvy of each individual's background.

4. Going Solo
With the memory of that solo gosling fresh in my mind, I wondered what motivates people and wildlife to seek company or to function alone.  All of the following loners were working away in Stanley Park during a recent visit. 
Squirrels scamper around and playfully scale trees when they are younger, but it seems they become very serious as they get older.  
I guess that is just the way of the world.  Storing food for the future is a matter of survival and no laughing matter.   
I increased my shutter speed for this solo bee and noticed that the hairs at the edge of the petals could be seen.  Not a story, perhaps, but a small sign of my growing awareness of some aspects of photography.   

5. Racing Cars: a passion that satisfies a need for solo time as well as the company of like-minded society
My previous post talked about the British car show at Vandusen Gardens, and now, with solo versus society thoughts lingering in my mind, it seems the perfect opportunity to bring up the stories of some cars and their passionate owners.  It strikes me that a person who loves restoring old cars must enjoy working long hours alone, but at the end of the day, also must appreciate the company of like-minded society with whom to share successes and failures and perhaps gain sagacious advice.

Here are two MG stories, the first one that I would definitely have missed, had my friend, Jock, not pointed it out.  Do you notice anything unusual about the lettering on the back of this car?  Well, the tale behind the upside-down TG would make any story teller salivate.
Here's an account of the story, cropped from a photograph of a sign that was attached to the car.  (My apologies for the shadow of my head and arm.)
Imagine what this car has come through!  It has changed colours, rolled during a race, been stripped and hung in a bar, survived a fire, and then, the shell has been rescued and re-built by the driver who rolled it.  This is the stuff of great drama!  

And, I come back to the solo/society topic.  Long, long hours had to have been spent by Kilpatrick to restore the car, but in the end, he has, I feel sure, enjoyed sharing his story with the thousands who spotted either the sign or the telltale upside down letters, put that way on purpose to symbolize the rollover.  Who said cars are boring?  
Definitely, not I, and for sure, not Jock.  Here are Jock's own words (blue font) sent in an e-mail when I asked for some details about his friend Al and the MG shown below.  (Al is sitting behind the car two photos below, but most of his face is blocked out by the roll bar.  He can be seen a bit more clearly in my previous post.)  I think it is noteworthy that Jock helped his friend Al (who was recovering from recent surgery!).  Their set up began well before 7:30 a.m. and the take down ended after 4:30 p.m.
Following is some stuff on the MG. Not sure how much this will interest your biking/birding/arty audience; sports car racing is probably anathema to most of them ... vulgar, noisy, wasteful and a shocking abuse of the environment. All true ... well, maybe not vulgar! Very few of us straddle that fence between greenies and racers. My car friends find me a bit odd ... but the friendships are deep nevertheless.
Al's MGB is a '67 model that came from the Seattle area where it raced in the SOVREN (Society Of Vintage Racing ENthusiasts) series, primarily at the wonderful Pacific Raceways road course near Seattle. It's former owner has moved on to an Elva, a rare and obscure English sports car that is popular for racing. When Al, who is a certain age, found "go vintage sports car racing" on his "bucket list", he joined the Vintage Racing Club of BC (www.vrcbc.ca) and bought the MG in late 2010. Buying a race-prepared car eliminates a lot of the work involved in getting onto the track, provided the car is properly done, and this MG certainly was; it has been completely reliable and trouble-free. Vintage race cars are prepared to the standards of their period, except for more modern safety equipment which the rules require.
Bill and Jock scan under the hood
Al did his mandatory driver's training through the Sports Car Club of BC (www.sccbc.net/) in Spring 2011 at the Mission Raceway road course, then did his novice races to qualify for a full racing licence. Driver training involves a weekend of theory, learning rules etc, and the second weekend provides plenty of track time with experienced drivers as teachers. (This is an excellent course for anyone interested in improving their driving skills, whether or not they plan on racing.) Al's long-time friend Pierce did the driver training program this spring and now just needs to do one more novice race to get his full racing licence. The two of them will share the MG. Vintage racing is of the amateur "gentleman" variety, strictly for fun, and everyone involved respects that; everyone tries hard, but sticks to a very high level of sportsmanship. VRCBC / SCCBC events are well organized, the safety standard is very high, and the atmosphere at the track is informal and friendly ... a great group of like-minded fools.
Vintage races are usually included as part of a regular SCCBC race weekend. For those interested, August 4-5 is a full weekend of Vintage racing at Mission.

The annual All British Field Meet at Van Dusen Gardens is always well attended by a very appreciative crowd ... even when it rains!  Moving the MG into and out of the Gardens for the show seemed incongruous ... a noisy racer, unhappy and clumsy at low speeds, in such a bucolic and beautiful setting; however, great care was taken and no plants were harmed in this operation.

And, Carol back again here.  I must add a comment about the creativity of all who love mechanics.  I saw that quality in my father and recognize it again in the simple but brilliant device that holds the hood up in the MG.  Thank you, Jock, for taking time to share Al's story In so doing, you also transmit your infectious enthusiasm for cars and racing.  It is very much appreciated!

6. Supporting Nature 
And, talking about creativity, I am transported to another story, this one of the eagles at Jericho park.  I found the following words about an artificial nesting platform that bird enthusiasts had built to help out this construction-challenged pair (named Bert and Ethel by some).  The story is that for at least three years in a row, their nest has fallen from the tree and one or both eagle chicks have had to be rescued.  This year, a possible solution to this problem was tried out. 
New Artificial Nesting Platform for Jericho Eagles
This summer, volunteers concerned with the long-term viability of the Jericho eagle nest worked with park staff to install an artificial nest base. Retired Vancouver Park Board wildlife manager Mike Mackintosh sought the permission from the BC Ministry of the Environment, consulted with eagle expert Dave Hancock, and worked with the Park Board for help. The 1.4m2 platform has an aluminum mesh base and is layered with cedar, alder and cottonwood branches. The platform was lifted into and attached to their Douglas-fir nest tree. They have been seen using it since their return in October.
There are many missing details in this story.  For example, although the adults appear to have accepted the structure, we were not able, during our short visit, to tell if there are any chicks in the nest this year.
But, that is okay.  The heart of this story, for me, lies in the caring of a community of bird watchers who came together to try and help out Burt and Ethel.  I am sometimes unsure that it is sensible to go to great lengths to alter the natural course of wildlife survival, but I can tell you that this story makes me smile a lot.

7. Smiles
And, speaking of smiles, here are just a few with some small stories to go with them.  This first was taken as I walked over the Granville Bridge, and looked down at the cement plant.  Who, I wonder, decides on the art displayed on certain trucks?
 Strawberry?  For a cement truck?  Surely, there must be an untold story there.
This series of Bill's legs and Black Jack brought so many smiles, I figure the story that I was too lazy to change to a smaller lens must be of some interest to someone.  
Perhaps, the story is in the way.. 
Black Jack faces the same direction as Bill's feet (more or less). 
Or perhaps, it is just in the fun a little dog..
  and a wonderful man..
have together.
 This isn't one of Black Jack's more sapient looks, 
but her salmagundi (am I using that word correctly?) of expressions is one of the ways she makes me smile.
Thank you so much for dropping by the blog.  i hope at least one of my stories this week has triggered some interest, and I do hope you will check out the amazing Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday web site for other stories from around the world. 


  1. Well, I thoroughly enjoyed this today! Love the strawberry cement truck and will keep an eye out for it. You must live downtown (Yaletown?) an area where I seldom venture. But I guess I should "tourist" it some day...maybe when school is over for the year.

    abcw teM

  2. Thanks for your "stories" and beautiful images. Thank you for visiting. The most important part of my entry is hidden and can only be seen after clicking on "Read more" . I don't like it but I don' t know how to change it.

  3. Fantastic stories and great shots to go with them. The Roundhouse is very interesting and loved seeing the musicians and also liked your including the wildlife shots and fun ones with the dog. Carver, ABC-Wed. Team

  4. Despite the lousy weather, I'm a big fan of public performance, one of many interesting items here.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  5. Wonderful shots of such great variety. Love the last shot.

  6. Wonderful stories and images! The happy dog did make me smile, so did the cement trucks and the baby geese!

  7. What a great blog - I like especially your thoughts on wildlife communication - if only we could ask questions and learn more about their world - I loved reading your blog thanks for sharing - Jane UK

  8. All of your "S" stories were intriging today! I adore the magesty of the Eagle, so that one probably is my favorite. The duckings sure made me smile though. Thank you for your very nice comment about my "S" today.

  9. About your first story: a genius design but with very little coverage OR practicality. How great it is to have the cultural side of the city at your feet, though. Your post reminds me that interesting people are curious about their surroundings. Most go by in a daze scratching only the surface but as you so beautifully show there is always so much more to discover … the up and downs, the struggles and successes. Thanks as always for going a little deeper, Carol, and sharing interesting stories that have me wanting to know more! :)

  10. the roundhouse doesn't really look round, lol ! I love your animal pictures !
    ABC Team

  11. Dear Carol,
    Great job on the written part of the post, but the pictures are just BEAUTIFUL!! I also think Black Jack stole the show with his happy eyes. Thanks for sharing this happy page my friend.

  12. The roundhouse reminded me of the awning at my workplace that also does not stand up to wind and rain. Yours looks best from above. What an amazing sight you have captured with all the ducklings. Love those cement trucks, what fun.

  13. S is a lovely letter and I enjoyed your romp with words and pictures...especially of the legs of my brother and Black Jack!!! Phyllis

  14. I love stories-- especially when they expand the pictures.

  15. Fascinating and interesting post!! Enjoyed all the stories and the wonderful pictures too!!

  16. My goodness! Lots of s's!!! But as usual Black Jack is my favorite. He looks like he's having a barrel of fun! Such an expressive looking dog.

  17. Love your pictures. What a lovable set of dog images!

  18. The cement trucks look like toy trucks.

    Thanks for visiting.

    Your cnanadia geese reminded me of my first Canadian winter, and biy I don't like winter, even in mild New Zealand.

  19. Hi there - great post - love the musicians and the MG's!

    If you like the ramblings on the Living in the past post, you may enjoy my other blog as well - it’s called Paying Ready Attention - and is dedicated more to my ramblings than my pictures.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Australia